Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) Collapse Brings In More Bears

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is getting pounded again and put volume is through the roof

Nov 19, 2015 at 11:52 AM
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With crude oil down nearly 1% today, Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is getting crushed. The shares have given back 8.3% at $5.51, and earlier touched a 13-year low of $5.28. As such, the stock is short-sale restricted, sending bearish traders to the options pits. At last check, put volume was running at five times the expected midday pace. In fact, today's put volume ranks in the 98th annual percentile. 

Leading the way by a huge margin is the November 5 put, where over 21,000 contracts have changed hands -- more than twice as many as the next closest option. International Securities Exchange (ISE) data confirms some buy-to-open activity here, meaning traders are anticipating CHK will carve out even lower lows by tomorrow's close, when front-month options expire. Delta on the strike has moved from negative 2.4% at Wednesday's close to negative 22% today, meaning the market is giving the options about a one-in-five chance of finishing in the money. 

The $5 level is no stranger to option trader attention. Over the past 10 days, more than 26,000 positions have been added at the January 2016 5-strike put, almost tripling the next most popular contract. Reflecting this affinity for puts is CHK's 10-day put/call volume ratio at the ISE, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This reading stands at 2.01. Not only does this mean put buying has doubled call buying over the past two weeks, but it also outranks 87% of similar metrics from the past year. 

Skepticism reigns outside the options arena, as well. For starters, the 219 million CHK shares sold short represent almost three weeks' worth of buying power, going by typical daily volumes. What's more, there are 20 analysts covering the equity, and only two rate it anything higher than a "hold."

Considering the trainwreck that CHK has been on the charts, none of this is really surprising. Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) has underperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by roughly 28 percentage points during the past two months. Furthermore, the stock's breakout attempts have been repeatedly cut short by its 20-week moving average, dating back to August 2014. 

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